CEO of Casetify shares his No. 1 ‘super underrated’ business tip

Wesley Ng learned the basics of running a business by watching his parents run a restaurant in Hong Kong.

“Obviously it wasn’t investment-backed,” the 41-year-old said with a laugh. “What is the most important thing to survive? Profit.”

Ng now runs his business, Casetify, with the same philosophy. Headquartered in Hong Kong, this tech accessories brand is best known for its range of stylish phone cases.

According to the company, it brought in more than $125 million in revenue in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of more than 70 percent.

It comes down to one thing – being profitable. Being profitable has been incredibly underrated until recently.

Wesley Neg

Co-founder and CEO, Casetify

To date, Casetify says it has sold more than 15 million phone cases worldwide.

“It comes down to one thing — being profitable. Being profitable, until recently, was very underrated,” he told CNBC Make It in a virtual interview.

For some companies, they have to burn [money] To grow your business, but not all companies. I don’t think in B2C [business-to-consumer] “You have to burn a lot to grow. If that’s what you need, I don’t think you’re going in the right direction.”

“Learn about starting a business from your mom and dad. Start a business that makes money and is profitable. That’s the solution.”

Ng shares more tips on how to turn your side hustle into a multi-million dollar business.

1. Bootstrapping

Casetify first launched in 2011 as an e-commerce platform that allows customers to personalize phone cases with Instagram photos.

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It has since expanded into selling tech accessories, while collaborating with global artists, companies like DisneyAnd now K-pop groups like Blackpink.

“Our users wanted more than customization, they wanted to use it like a personal billboard, a creative canvas … and express who they are.”

Looking back, Ng said he never expected this success for a business he and his co-founder started “in a very pure way” with $200,000 in seed capital.

We always do things based on the interests of the company and not the shareholders. These are two different things.

Wesley Neg

Co-founder and CEO, Casetify

Given global inflation and looming economic headwinds, Ng said Casetify was “lucky” not to be heavily backed by venture capital, otherwise it would have set the company up for “unrealistic targets.”

“We always do things and work in the interests of the company instead of the shareholders. Those are two different things,” he explained.

We didn’t overinvest in things in exchange for unnecessary growth. So fortunately, we are safe but very cautious.”

Despite this, Casetify has ambitious plans — it aims to open 100 retail stores in the next two years, according to Ng. He added that there are currently 19 stores around the world where customers can design their own phone case and “receive it within 30 minutes”.

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Casetify first started selling customizable phone cases, but has since expanded to collaborate with global artists.

Casetify

In June 2021, the company reportedly hit “eight figures” in its first fundraising round after 10 years in business.

So if you look at it, technically we don’t need to [to raise funds]. It is more like a strategic investment.

When asked about the company’s valuation, he said it would be “close to a billion” after a cash injection in 2021 — allowing Casetify one step closer to unicorn status.

As for his company’s profitability, Ng didn’t miss a beat: “It’s not a question. It has to be. [profitable]”

2. Overshare your problems

For Ng, who has a background in broadcast design, running his own company naturally came with many challenges.

The biggest obstacle? Training the ropes of the production industry.

He shared, “How can we acquire so much knowledge in such a short period of time and apply it to the business? One of the skills that entrepreneurs must have is to be able to do something in a very short period of time. Learn a little and do the right thing about it.”

One of the mistakes he remembers was buying his first industrial printer, which was a wrong purchase.

It’s about give and take… you’d be surprised how much you know you can learn from other people’s experiences.

Wesley Neg

Co-founder and CEO, Casetify

“We lost about $50,000 … but we still keep that machine here as a reminder that we learned to go with humility and ask for help from people who have experience in production.”

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Speaking out, or even “over-sharing” about your struggles as an entrepreneur, is a lesson Ng now takes to heart.

“I meet entrepreneurs all over the world and there is something about them in Asia, [we’re] He is not so open when it comes to the problems we have. You seem weak, right?”

“But it’s very important. By talking about problems, talk about what you’ve learned,” he said. “It’s about give and take… you’d be surprised how much you know you can learn from other people’s experiences.”

3. Entrepreneurship “is not for everyone”

As an entrepreneur, Ng admits it’s a title he’s “glorified”.

“It’s important, this is how you disrupt and improve the world. But you have to ask yourself, is this really what’s right for you? It’s not right for everyone.”

The best way to find out if it’s right for you is to “work closely with a founder” or join a small startup to see how hard it is, Ng said.

Casetify is now eyeing the global expansion of its retail stores, where customers can design their phone case “on the spot” and receive it within 30 minutes, said CEO Wesley Ng.

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